The Lethbridge District Planning Commission (LDPC) was established by the provincial government on 7 April 1955 by Order-in-Council 444/55. The original members of the LDPC were the City of Lethbridge, Town of Coaldale and the Municipal District of Lethbridge No. 25. The organizations first offices were located in Lethbridge city hall. The first director of the LDPC was Samuel Lurie, and the first chairman was Charles Roland Daniel Jr. When the Commission began operation, there were three paid employees.
In 1956 the Village of Nobleford joined the LDPC. In 1957 another provincial Order –in-Council changed the name of the organization to the Oldman River District Planning Commission (ORDPC), to more accurately reflect the geographical area served. Also in 1957, the Village of Picture Butte Joined the ORDPC.
In the years 1958 and 1959, the staff of the ORDPC expanded to include the director, two planners, a draftsman and a secretary. The towns of Nanton and Raymond joined the ORDPC, and the first Commission dinner was successfully held. By 1960 membership in the ORDPC had increased, as had the number of staff. The use of sub-committees was first introduced in these years. The executive committee met on a regular schedule, but the sub-committees – city development, region development, public relations and others – met only when required. As the ORDPC moved into the early 1960s, two more planners were added to the staff, and the organization embarked on an active public relations and information program that included a television series, weekly newspaper column and the formation of a Civic Study Group in Lethbridge. The ORDPC was involved in planning projects that stretched from Nanton to Raymond, and from Taber to the Crowsnest Pass.
In 1963 The Planning Act was passed by the provincial government, and the name of the organization was changed yet again, this time to Oldman River Regional Planning Commission (ORRPC). The ORRPC suffered a setback when the Town of Fort Macleod withdrew its membership, but work continued, and by 1966 the ORRPC was more actively promoting a regional approach to planning. In 1966 Improvement District No. 2 as well as the towns of Blairmore and Vulcan joined the ORRPC.
On 15 July 1968 the Subdivision and Transfer Regulation was amended. Regional planning commissions became the approving authorities for subdivisions within their defined regions. All municipal governments, whether members of the region or not, had to submit their proposals to the Regional planning commission for approval. The Planning Act was also changed, allowing the Regional planning commission to advise municipalities in the region with respect to development, whether they were members or not. Finally in 1968, the villages of Bellevue and Frank joined the ORRPC. This raised total membership in the ORRPC to 16, representing 37% of the municipalities in the planning area, and 63% of the total population.
In 1969 Fort Macleod, Milk River and the County of Vulcan No. 2 joined the ORRPC. Also in 1969, the federal government designated the southern part of the planning region under its Regional Development Incentive Act. The objective of this federal legislation was to improve employment opportunities by encouraging businesses to locate or expand in slow-growth areas where such incentives were likely to succeed. In 1970 nine municipalities joined the ORRPC: Vauxhall, Magrath, Claresholm, Champion, Stirling, Warner, County of Warner No. 5, Municipal District of Willow Creek No. 26 and the Municipal District of Taber No. 14.
The year 1971 saw completion of a project to map and interpret all of the land within the planning region, an important first step toward writing a preliminary regional plan. The same year, the town of Stavely joined the ORRPC. Finally, the Alberta Planning Fund was implemented. It was intended that all funds required to operate regional planning commissions would be requested directly from the provincial Planning Board, with the Board in turn requisitioning all municipalities of the province to contribute to the fund. In 1972 the village of Coutts and the Peigan Reserve became members of the ORRPC, and the Commission instituted five new sub-committees to review studies prepared for the Preliminary Regional Plan. These sub-committees were Land Use and Administration, Housing and Social Development, Recreation and Environment, Economy and Resources, and Transportation.
In 1973 the Municipal District of Cardston and Village of Cowley joined the ORRPC, bringing its membership to 35. Four provincial departments were now represented on the ORRPC: Industry and Commerce, Highways and Transport, Environment, and Agriculture. In 1975 the Town of Granum joined the ORRPC, along with the Villages of Arrowwood, Glenwood, Milo and Carmangay. Membership in the ORRPC had reached 40, including the Blood and Peigan Reserves. Another milestone was reached when on 11 July 1974 the Preliminary Regional Plan was adopted by the ORRPC. On 17 December 1974 the plan was approved by the Provincial Planning Board.
In 1975 the Town of Grassy and Lake and the Villages of barons and Lomond joined the ORRPC, which raised the membership to 43 of 44 municipalities within the ORRPC’s geographical area. Throughout the late 1970s the ORRPC continued its primary planning work, while cooperating with various departments and agencies and both the municipal and provincial levels to accomplish such projects as: site development studies for irrigation reservoirs, historic sites designations, river valley development and stabilization, study of the environmental effects of forestry operations, input into the new Planning Act, and others.
In 1994 a fundamental change to regional planning was instituted by the provincial government. The Municipal Act was amended to abolish all regional planning commissions in Alberta. The members of the ORRPC reconstituted the organization in 1995 under the name Oldman River Intermunicipal Services Agency (ORISA) to provide the same services as were provided previous to the change in provincial legislation. In 2003 ORISA was renamed the Oldman River Regional Services Commission (ORRSC).
As of 2006, the ORRSC is contracted by its 36 members in southwestern Alberta to provide advice regarding land use planning matters. The Commission is also available as a resource to individual landowners, but does not prepare plans as part of a legal process for anyone in the private sector. The ORRSC also processes and advises on subdivision applications on behalf of its member municipalities. Final decisions on approval or rejection are made by a municipal subdivision authority.
Sources of information:
“A History of the Oldman River Regional Planning Commission 1955-1980”. Manuscript, author unknown, no date
Oldman River Regional Services Commission website. http://www.orrsc.com/agency.htm. June 2006
Scope and Content
Agendas, minutes, reports, studies and photographs of the Oldman River Regional Planning Commission.